Franchisee with her first Mathnasium center
Franchisee Aileen Clarkson grew her first center, Mathnasium of Savannah Islands, GA,largely through supporting the local education community and bymaintaining a homey, positive, and effective learning environment thatfostered a sense of ownership and belonging among her customers. This,combined with the numerous student success stories coming out of hercenter, resonated with families in her small, close-knit area andfueled strong referral business that enabled her to grow that centerclose to the 100-student mark. When she opened her second location, Mathnasium of Savannah Midtownin December 2011, she faced the challenge of growing a similarlysuccessful center, this time in a much larger, more urban market.
Looking back, “It was much easier to get the word out for the firstlocation,” Aileen reflects. “That center’s in a small island communitywhere everyone knows each other. Parents are very involved withschools. And, as far as demographics go, I know that if I got a phonecall at my first center, there’s a very good chance the family willsign up, because they can afford it.
“Meanwhile, the Midtown location draws from a much larger market.There are 44 schools compared with six in my first location. A lot ofthe areas I serve here have even better demographics than my firstlocation. So while I feel that it’ll take longer to grow, the secondcenter definitely has the potential to become bigger than the first.”
Aileen is exceptionally passionate about what she does, and it showswhen she speaks with parents and others in the community. “I love everyminute of what I do,” she tells us. “I often joke that if work was aluxury, I’d be doing this for free,” she says. “As a parent andteacher, I connect with other parents and teachers on that level. Idon’t come across as a businessperson. From day one, I never felt that Ihad to ‘sell’ Mathnasium.”
These qualities serve Aileen well as she reaches out and supportslocal schools. “One thing that worked really well at my first centerwas partnering with the schools and establishing a physical presence,”she explains. The benefits are twofold—she gets to give back to thecommunities her business serves all while getting the word out aboutMathnasium. For her second center, she chose to focus on 20 schoolslocated in key markets. In her two territories, Aileen has donated bothcash and Mathnasium scholarships to PTAs; volunteered her time andexpertise to help parents, teachers and administrators and sponsoredfamily fun days and other school social events.
As a result of her efforts, schools are now familiar with Mathnasiumand its unique teaching methodology and have welcomed Aileen andMathnasium with open arms. Teachers, guidance counselors andadministrators frequently refer struggling math students to her centersfor some extra help. By going out into the community and becoming thepersonable, passionate and knowledgeable face of her business, she hassown the seeds for future growth. “We have a great market and a greatproduct,” she concludes. “As long as we keep our passion for what we doand show that we really care about the kids doing well, we’ll instillin our students a passion for learning. It’s a lot of work, and quitetime consuming to get out there the way we do, but parents and teachersare noticing our commitment. They know we’re actively, every day,doing what we can to help the kids improve.”
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